The first lady of maternity fashion, Liz Lange designs beautiful clothes to flatter beautiful pregnant women. We spoke exclusively with Liz about her career, style tips for the summer, and balancing it all — stylishly.
Let’s talk about the Liz Lange Spring/Summer Collection for Target.
I’m really excited about my Spring/Summer collection for Target. It’s 70’s-inspired, so it has a lot of dip dyes and tie-dyes and stripes, brightly colored denim. To me summer, no matter what the trend, is always about the dress. The dress is the easiest, one-stop-shopping way to dress when you’re pregnant. So we’ve done a ton of dresses; we’ve done maxi dresses and mini dresses. I love the color palette; it’s bright, it’s juicy. It features tropical prints and jewel tones. It’s not a sea of black and gray. I think we’re so happy when summer comes so we can embrace those colors and I really want pregnant women to do that. There’s no reason to think that the only color to look slim in is black.
I agree, I think that most people think the only way to look thinner is to dress head to toe in black.
And pregnancy is such a celebratory time. You need to have fun with your clothing. We’re doing something fun—we’re doing color blocking so you have two colors in one. I always tell women that if you’re not really comfortable with the bold color block then we offer a tone on tone color block, like a darker blue with a lighter blue.
Liz, we’ve done quite a few interviews before together. In fact, I think one of the first interviews we did was when you were pregnant with your daughter, Alice. What a long and successful career you’ve had!
I’ve been a maternity designer since 1997, and last year Target and I celebrated our ten-year anniversary together. I mean, how time flies! It’s amazing for me because we started with just twelve pieces and today we deliver more than 50 every month. It’s been a wonderful partnership.
What I love about the line, apart from it being beautiful, is that it’s affordable and accessible to so many women.
I love that you’re saying that to me. My absolute favorite part of the line is for that exact reason. I think every woman should have the opportunity to feel absolutely fabulous, chic and beautiful at a price point that she can afford during the pregnancy.
Another thing that I love is that the fabrics themselves are super soft. When you’re pregnant, that’s really important.
Frankly, when you’re pregnant—or even when you’re not—if you don’t feel comfortable in your clothing, you’re never going to look good. So I only use the stretchiest, softest fabrics, like knits. Everything feels really good on your body. When you’re pregnant, you’re sensitive, so you need softness and stretchy. It’s also another way for you to wear clothing that’s more fitted and closer to your body.
So how does this collection differ from previous collections?
What’s nice for me in all the designing I’ve done for Target in the past ten years is that of course every season the collection changes but the principles we began with have remained the same. It’s beautiful clothing made of soft, stretchy fabrics have always been—and always will be—the cornerstone of the collection.
The partnership seems like a perfect match.
I love just love the convenience of it all. You can not only shop for your maternity clothes, but you can pick up diapers as well or even your groceries. I know what it’s like; as women, we’re all busy. We all multitask, and I love that Target gives them that place where they can do their own wardrobe, their baby’s wardrobe and anything else they need.
How would you describe your design aesthetic?
I offer timeless, classic pieces that you can mix and match always to create a multitude of different looks. I think that when you’re pregnant every piece should be a workhorse and it should be versatile. Regardless of price, you want to be able to dress it up or dress it down. Of course there are trends, but my design principles have remained the same over the course of my career.
When you’re pregnant, your clothing is certainly a workhorse but I find that you develop an emotional attachment, too.
The clothing that you buy when you’re pregnant isn’t like any other piece you buy at any other time in your life. I liken it to when you’re engaged and shopping for a wedding dress. It’s such an important time in your life, and it’s such an emotional time in your life. So every piece that you buy becomes that much more important. And because you own so few pieces when you’re pregnant, you wear them to death, as any pregnant woman will tell you. So you want to make sure that you really love every piece that you purchase. I put a lot of love into the design, and I want them to feel happy and celebratory. In my mind, there is no more single exciting time than when you’re pregnant. I want the shopping experience to reflect that and I want the clothing to reflect that, and I think that it does.
What tips would you give to working moms to stay chic in the workplace?
Some of my best customers are working moms. It’s a tricky time because you want to look professional and pulled together but you’re feeling bigger. I think it’s about keeping it tailored. I always love a blazer and a button-down blouse, even a pencil skirt. I think the biggest no-no is making sure that your shoes are not too high. You can also pull yourself together with your accessories. Like the way you tie a scarf around your neck or the bracelet and earrings you choose to wear. I don’t think it’s as difficult as we think it is. Sometimes a simple cardigan over a great dress can be a great and professional way to look.
I would think layering would work too. You’re already hot but it might be cooler in the office.
Layering is very, very important. It’s like little ovens inside of us, and you can feel like you’re burning up. So you want to have the option to take off or add on layers as you need them.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope that I can have at least a decade more with Target; I love working with them. And personally, I want to spend more time with my kids, Gus and Alice. They’re 12 and 14, which I can’t even believe. I wasn’t even pregnant with my first when I started Liz Lange Maternity. I’m a very optimistic person so I’m excited about the future and the fact that we don’t know what it has in store.
How do you achieve your own work life balance?
I think the word balance sounds so delicate, so elegant, like I’m walking on a balance beam. Any working mom will tell you it’s more like a juggling act. And things are always falling. I would say that I’ve embraced going with it. It’s never perfect; sometimes I’m with the kids and I think, “Oh, I should be at the office!” and then if I’m at the office, I think, “Oh, I’m missing something with the kids.” I think if you’re lucky enough to delegate a little bit—and I have been—that can help. You have to let go and understand that you can’t do everything—you have to let your partner or someone you work with help you do some things. There’s no magic answer. There’s only a finite amount of hours in the day.
I find that women have a hard time with delegating. Do you find that to be true?
I find delegating and letting go to be very hard. As a woman and an entrepreneur, most people would probably describe me as a control freak. But when you’re giving advice to someone else (which, of course, is much easier to do!) my advice would be to delegate. The times when I’ve been most successful at balance, if I can say I’ve ever achieved it, is when I’m delegating a bit.
Now, how would you describe yourself as a mom?
I think I’m a pretty loose mom! When I get home at the end of the day, I want to have a good time with my children. I like spending time with them; we’re often all in my bed watching TV, reading together or hanging out. We spend our summer weekends together in East Hampton. My daughter and I do girlie things together; we shop, we get our nails done. With my son, I can’t say I play video games with him, but I hang out! [laughs] As for my parenting style, I definitely pick my battles. But I love spending time with them and I love my career.